Why don’t Utah teachers speak out en masse, as New York teachers?
Why don’t Utah teachers speak out en masse, as New York teachers?
I like this video. Thanks, Sam Martin.
One of the reasons that our family moved from Wasatch County to Utah County last month was to be closer to the school in Alpine (Utah County) that my son is attending this year. The 50-mile (times two) daily commute was worth it.
Filled with uniformed students and happy-looking staff, Mountainville Academy’s a cheerful, academically-focused K-9 school that displays the Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People posters all over the school (and incorporates the 7 habits into classwork.) Parents each volunteer 40 or more hours of service to the school, and it shows.
We chose Mountainville Academy because it was one of the few remaining public schools that was using time-tested, excellent Saxon Math (2007 version; pre-Common Core), and it was a rare school where students were grouped by achievement level rather than by age, at least for math. This meant that a sixth grader would often be found in an eighth grade math class, or vice versa, placed not by government tests, but by a “results-remained-in-the-school” performance test.
Also, despite the government mandate that the school administer end-of-year Common Core SAGE/AIR tests, the school had been gracious with parents who chose to opt students out of those end of year tests.
This school year had been good, so far.
But last night, I received a school email that has resulted in our family’s decision that our son will not attend Mountainville next year. I was so sad. I truly felt sold out, as Alyson Williams described it, because this board could not claim ignorance. I had met with them, presented to them, emailed them, shown them links and documentation and countless reasons why this decision would harm the students and the school.
The email, from the school’s academic excellence committee, stated that despite the two presentations I made, and despite other parents also speaking out, the school will abandon “results-remain-in-the-school” performance testing, to adopt year-round, formative SAGE/Common Core testing.
This, the email said, was in the best interests of the children.
I was sickened by the email’s news, but also confused– how can anyone, having received the amount of information and documentation that I presented and emailed to the board and the committee about SAGE/AIR, still say with seriousness that this decision was “in the best interests of the children”?
I don’t get it.
But I’m going to post the email that I gave to the board, which the board had requested from me as a follow-up to my five or ten minute oral presentation. I’m also going to post the email I received last night.
So, is this an epic ruination of a great, formerly-parent-led school, or was this decision made truly “in the best interests of the children”? The school has been altered to its very center. The school-altering decision was made without taking a vote from parents, without even announcing in the weekly “Mountainville Minute” that the school will now be very, very different.
It will be administering Common Core testing throughout the year, and on purpose, voluntarily, rather than only administering the state-mandated end of year SAGE/AIR test. It will necessarily align its teachings more and more to the federal desires for what college-and-career readiness is, because placing students in different levels of learning will be structured all year long now upon common core testing and teaching.
I can’t see any way that this course of action can take place and still keep classic education, Saxon math for example, at the school for long. Because formative tests are utterly Common Core and David-Coleman-club aligned, to get the state version of “excellent” scores on these tests, teachers will be pressured to teach more Common Core and less classic Saxon. The formative tests will form student’s paths and teacher’s definitions of what education now means, and that’s giving up the reins of power, reins that had made this school so unique and wonderful.
Beyond the academic transformation is something probably even more serious: student data privacy. Privacy for Mountainville students is thrown out the window, because individuals and schools were the only defense we had against the federal-corporate partnership that is aiming to rape the nation of its student privacy.
The state government won’t protect us if Mountainville’s board won’t; the state’s SLDS (State Longitudinal Database System) tracks children without parental consent or knowledge and gives much of it to the federal EdFacts Data Exchange and to the corporate American Institutes for Research, which is then free to share that data with its countless affiliates, including Data Recognition Corporation and Smarter Balanced Advisory Consortium (SBAC) which happens to be under contract to share its student level data with the federal government. American Institutes for Research, the primary data collector of Utah’s SAGE tests, is a behavioral research organization focused on psychometric data collection and behavior.
All of this is known to Mountainville’s Board of Trustees, and with full knowledge, the Board has decided to still jump on the year-round SAGE testing bandwagon. Neither preserving a classical education nor student data privacy apparently matters too much to the Mountainville Board.
But it does to me.
My heart goes out to the students and their families who will remain at Mountainville, most likely oblivious to the fact that the school’s educational program and their student’s academic and behavioral data privacy just took a very sharp nose dive down.
Here are the emails.
On Oct 13, 2014, at 2:12 PM, Christel wrote:
Dear Mountainville Academy,
I’m following up from last week’s school board meeting with a summary of my concerns underlying my request that Mountainville Academy continue to use the in-house testing system that’s worked so well in past years, rather than switching over to the state’s SAGE/AIR formative testing system.
(I began to study education reforms two and a half years ago and have researched, summarized and posted findings at “Common Core: Education Without Representation” where I hope you will read much more than I can summarize here about student data privacy, the common core experimental standards, and the unconstitutionality and freedom-sapping of recent education reforms.)
The reason my sixth grade son’s commuted 50 miles– from Heber to Alpine– and back, each day this school year (up until this week when our family moved from Heber to Pleasant Grove) is that Mountainville is very different in important, crucial ways, from other public schools. I love those differences and want them to remain in place.
If Mountainville switches to SAGE/AIR formative testing, I predict that many parents, like me, will very sadly decide to leave the school. Here’s why:
We cannot depend on others to protect our children. We need to be the first line of defense as parents, teachers and local school board members. I ask you to retain Mountainville’s in-house tests, keep the strengths of Mountainville, and reject the opportunity to use Utah’s SAGE/AIR year-round testing system.
Mountainville Academy Parent
(also a Utah credentialed teacher)
Date: Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Subject: Re: Request to continue with in-house testing rather than
formative SAGE testing
I just wanted to let you know the status of our SAGE testing decisions.
At Mountainville Academy, we make every decision based on what is best for our students. After listening to all sides with concerns about SAGE testing, we as an academic excellence committee has decided to go ahead with the interim SAGE testing. We feel that it will help students learn and prepare for SAGE testing in the spring. As you know, spring SAGE testing is mandatory and schools are not allowed to opt out of testing.
After reviewing the results from SAGE testing of spring 2014, we recognize the many challenges that come with a new test, but are excited by the tools created to help our students achieve greater understanding of various topics.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. I completely understand your concerns and we will continue to monitor the testing and SAGE program. Thanks for coming to our board and committee meeting.
Board of Trustees
(For those with concerns, look into schools that are not yet taking the path of Common Core year-round testing. In Utah County there’s the (fully aware of the Common Core problem) Maesar Prep (a public chartered jr. and high school), American Heritage (private K-12), Timpanogos (public elementary charter) or one of the many home school co-op academies nearby.)
By JaKell Sullivan and Christel Swasey
Common science standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are gleefully trending all over the nation now, birthed by the same folks who pushed Common Core English and Math (Achieve, Inc., David Coleman’s baby and US Delivery Institute, Pearson CEA Michael Barber’s baby.
Many states have rejected, or are wisely in the middle of debating rejecting, the common science standards.
South Carolina utterly rejected them. Wyoming’s legislature rejected them, in a move Truth in American Education called “a victory for objectivity and neutrality in science education.” (Read Wyoming citizens’ testimonies and more on Wyoming’s decision here.)
Meanwhile, in Kansas, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) have filed a federal law suit against the state school board and the state department of education for pushing NGSS in violation of the first and fourth amendments to the Constitution. In Kentucky, legislators wrote a bill to potentially reject the NGSS science standards, while Ohio passed a bill that made multi-state control of standards — including science standards– illegal.
So what about Utah? Aren’t we discussing this and vetting these standards thoroughly here? No, we are not.
Here in Utah, no legislator has written any bill to consider rejecting NGSS. Search the internet, and you’ll find there’s nothing in the legislature nor in recent news at all about NGSS in Utah.
A year ago there was. The then-chairwoman of the state school board Debra Roberts promised that Utah had no plans to adopt the NGSS standards although Utah would revise science standards. She said, “they will be uniquely Utah standards”. That turned out to be untrue.
Quietly, under the public radar, Utah’s Office of Education (USOE) is rushing forward to align with the national science standards without public knowledge. I did a quick word search on the Utah State Office of Education website for “Next generation science standards” and found 143 references to it in USOE-published pdf’s and professional development conferences. Right now, a Utah science standards review committee is reviewing Utah’s current science standards and is comparing them with NGSS national science standards.
According to a Utah law HB342, a committee including a handful of parents must “review and recommend” to the board any new revisions to curriculum. Some of those parents aren’t happy about being herded toward approving matching Utah’s science standards to NGSS science. They say it’s abundantly clear that the Utah State Office of Education wants the NGSS standards here in Utah.
Of course, the feeling is mutual; NGSS wants to be in Utah. That’s obvious since “Education First” of Utah (partner of NGSS) rolled out their (uncalled-for) five-year plan for Utah’s education system recently– and it so happens that “Education First” is not only partnered with the co-creators of NGSS: Achieve and US Delivery Institute but it also heavily promoted Common Core in propaganda mailings to the Utah legislature last year. Most likely, Education First will be promoting NGSS in similar legislator mailings and Prosperity 2020 radio spots– after they’ve been adopted, as was the case with Common Core.
Still, by law, it’s not Education First or its partners who have authority to set education policy or standards or create five-year plans. Even the USOE lacks that authority. It’s only the State School Board –with the assistance of the parent committee– who is supposed to weigh in.
Profound problems are being reported by the few parents who are allowed to weigh in on these standards.
1- First, oddly, some of the same individuals are serving on both the new science standards writing committee and the review committee. That is like the judge judging himself.
2- Second, the “new and improved” Utah science standards currently being “reviewed” by parents just so happen to be 99.9% the same as the national, standardized Next Generation Science Standards, according to parents currently on that committee.
3- Third, parents note that even thought the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) does not have legal authority to make new science standards for Utah schools; the Utah State School Board does; yet the board has not been in charge of this science standards-altering process; the USOE took it over.
4- Fourth: NGSS science standards –to which Utah’s aiming to align– do come from the same private business people who brought us Common Core math and English standards: Achieve Inc., David Coleman, etc. , yet the claim is that these science standards have nothing to do with Common Core.
5- Fifth: Most importantly– NGSS are not scientifically neutral or objective. The NGSS Frameworks and Standards promote every tenet of a belief system called secular humanism, as listed in Humanist Manifesto III. This is not separating church and state; it is creating a dogma of anti-religion as a religion.
To understand #5, jump to the Kansas law suit on this issue.
In December of last year, Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) filed suit in federal court against the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas Department of Education to stop implementation of science standards designed for every child in the United States. Why?
The suit says that NGSS science standards aren’t objective nor neutral science standards. Rather than showing multiple beliefs about the origin and end of life, they adhere religiously to the humanistic/atheistic view of science, which is, ironically, pushing religion: the anti-religion religion. This violates the Constitution’s first and fourteenth amendments. NGSS pushers try to argue that anyone opposed to NGSS is for teaching another religion in the classroom. Actually, the opposite is true. It is the NGSS which promotes its religion of atheism and secular humanism represented in NGSS. That’s not only not objective, not neutral, and not scientific; it’s also a violation of law. Pushing secular humanism and atheism (and controversial environmental issues) as if they were settled facts is, ironically, unscientific.
In the words of John Calvert, lead counsel for the plaintiffs:
“This case is actually about a concealed Orthodoxy that requires all explanations provided by science to be materialistic/atheistic.”
A press release from Citizens for Objective Public Education states, “The Orthodoxy is not religiously neutral as it permits only the materialistic/atheistic answers to ultimate religious questions. The concealed use of the Orthodoxy in [Frameworks & Standards] has the effect of promoting the core tenets of non-theistic religions like Atheism and Religious (secular) Humanism.”
The press release lists mechanisms and strategies used by the NGSS Frameworks and Standards to establish the materialistic/atheistic worldview:
How did NGSS (and how did Common Core) make such strides across America? Here’s how.
1. State Offices of Education now only exist to pedal federal programs that are administrative in nature, not Constitutional. We’ve strayed not only from our national Constitution but from our Utah Constitution also. Rather than allow the state school board to truly set standards, the USOE offices run the educational show, unaccountable to anyone.
2. Both the Common Core Standards and NGSS and the new AP History Standards come with Appendices and Federal Frameworks and implementation handbooks to control adoption, curriculum and how teachers teach.
The NGSS come with a written Framework in order to control what/how teachers teach. What is tested is what will have to be taught.
Does anyone wonder why SAGE tests, already administered statewide last year, INCLUDED SCIENCE questions? Wasn’t the original claim that Common Core standards just included math and English? Nope. The AIR/SAGE tests were already set up to test the NGSS from the start. The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) knew that we would essentially be adopting the NGSS.
The USOE’s deceptive relationship with AIR and deceptions to the State Board and to parents of Utah have to be stopped. The USOE knows that the Common Core Standards’ Appendices and NGSS Framework will control what/how teachers teach and they know that SAGE tests are already set up to test NGSS.
The parent committee to review the science standards is a mockery of the Utah law that set it up. Meanwhile, NGSS also goes out of its way to create, in its NGSS Implementation workbook a long list for states of useful “Members of a Guiding Coalition” but parents are excluded from the recommended coalition member list. Oversight? Hardly.
The guiding coalition of those who should adopt and implement NGSS standards is officially defined this way: “a small group of highly visible and credible leaders who share your aspiration and will sustain your effort and will implement NGSS in the face of pushback...” (This reminds me of the way the USOE has gone out of its way to marginalize, demonize, or simply ignore parent pushback while it told the public that appendices and frameworks would not control Utah education at the local level.) Here are those links, for reference:
Common Core Appendices (For English Standards):
Common Core Appendix (For Math):
Common Core Framework (Next Generation Science Standards):
Note that the Science Standards report admits the purpose of its framework: “Students will make the greatest strides in learning science and engineering when all components of the system—from professional development for teachers to curricula and assessments to time allocated for these subjects during the school day—are aligned with the vision of the framework.”
3. The College Board, under the direction of David Coleman, Common Core’s architect, is revamping ALL AP Courses to include Federal Frameworks to control curriculum and pedagogy. For example:
AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework
AP U.S. History Curriculum Framework Evidence Planner for Teachers (teachers manual)
4. Big-Government and Big-Business both within Utah and elsewhere are profiting from federal reforms that these Appendices and Frameworks require of states. This includes federal programs to retrain principals and teachers to “trust that data” and federally funded programs to implement 1-to-1 technology in schools.
Last week, the Governor’s committee chair, Rich Kendall, along with the Salt Lake Chamber and Education First, unveiled their 5-year education plan. No teacher or school board or parental input was needed. This plan hinges on Common Core’s English and math standards now (and will no doubt eventually include all of Utah’s standards that will be aligned to Common Core for the profit of business, not to profit or protect our children.
Education First and the Governor’s Prosperity 2020 really must believe that parents don’t see what’s going on. The entire standards review process is political theater—and parents, teachers, and local school districts are being played for patsies.
5. The Appendices and Federal Frameworks function to dismantle local education control because he who controls the testing, controls the teachers. These Frameworks are embedded into the AIR/SAGE tests and in 1-to-1 technology, coming to our schools via federal funding.
6. As the Federal Frameworks work with business powers to dismantle local education control, we will see our representative form of government dismantled. The Federal Executive Branch is effectively corralling states by using administrative law, bypassing Constitutional law.
Let’s stop the “Next Generation Science Standards”.
An Idaho grandmother, Yvonne Hyer, recently wrote a letter to legislators. She didn’t just confront her own representatives about Common Core and student data mining; she signed, stamped, and mailed her letter to one hundred and five members of the Idaho legislature.
On this eve of her ninetieth birthday, Yvonne Hyer told Idaho legislators that she remembers what she was doing when America’s Pearl Harbor was bombed, on a day when the current Idaho legislators weren’t even born.
Her letter warns, “We had all better remember. If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible mistakes.“
(I have added some historical photos to illustrate Yvonne Hyer’s points.)
Yvonne’s letter explained that is was a mistake to give in –during a climate of dissatisfaction, unemployment and economic insecurity– to the comforting lies of collectivist power-grabbers, focused on transforming schools.
Actual illustrated children’s textbook from 1941 Germany (notice Hitler’s agenda embedded in curriculum)
The mistakes seem to be repeating themselves, wrote Yvonne Hyer: American leaders have begun to walk the school-transforming path sketched out by current elected officials and their corporate allies. This reminded Yvonne Hyer of how many listened to the then-heroic young leader of the 1940s, Adolph Hitler, and how nobody stopped him from taking over the schools.
“He gained control over the minds of the German children who became known as Hitler’s Youth. This he did in the school room…” she wrote.
Her letter further explains that one reason the German government mandated what went on in the classroom was to indoctrinate students with “politically correct” idealogy. But there was a second reason.
It was student (and family) data mining which took place in large part the German educational system:
“They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone who spoke against the government or its leaders, even their own parents….There was a lot of spying, to keep them in line… If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get what he wanted…”
“…Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes. As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday…. Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core….the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database System, and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart“.
Yvonne is correct.
But will her legislators ponder the wisdom of this woman’s observations –and take action?
Are they aware that no student or family is permitted to opt out of the state longitudinal database system, which does collect massive amounts of student and family information without parental consent– and that this database system has been built in exactly the same, federally-prescribed, interoperable way, in every single one of the fifty states?
Do they realize that she’s completely correct– that Common Core is no different from the power grabbing that’s taken place throughout history, where always, the would-be elites have sought and gained access to and control over the school room?
Do they take a moment to think about the fact that the reason so many were successfully deceived and used as pawns in the widespread power-taking agendas of the past (not limited to Hitler’s Reich; including countless historical examples, past and present, around the world–) the reason for that success was that the official marketing lines sound so very, very appealing?
Will these legislators take a moment to fact check Yvonne’s claims and to fact check the claims about Common Core that gush forth, with exactly the same phrasing, from Boards of Education, federal grant application documents, official federal speeches, corporate educational sales speeches, poised-for-riches Chambers of Commerce and crony moneymakers’ speeches? Why doesn’t any legislature or state school board use its research team to fact-check and motivation-check?
This wise woman’s call for the legislators to wake up and stop the takeover of our schools and our students’ data privacy could not be more important.
Here’s the letter:
Dear Senator ________________,
In just four months, I will be 90 years old. Why is that important and why do I mention it to you? It’s important because I remember World War II.
Most of you serving in the legislature at this time had not even been born then. I remember what I was doing on Dec. 7th 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor! Most of us living then, still remember, just as all of us living now remember what we were doing on Sept. 11th 2001, the morning the Twin Towers were attacked. We had all better remember! If we don’t learn from the past, we are bound to repeat the same horrible experiences. I see many things going on in our country today, not identical, but reminiscent of an earlier time in a different part of the world.
After World War I, much of Europe was in shambles. Millions of men had died in the trenches and open battle fields. As those who survived returned home, they found the additional human cost was staggering. The length of the war, four long years, brought all kinds of problems, starvation not the least among them, along with unemployment, industry having almost shut down, with so many men at the front. In this climate of dissatisfaction, a group calling themselves the “Workers’ Party” was formed.
A young corporal was sent by his superiors to a meeting of the group to investigate. Dressed as a civilian, he blended in and heard a speaker convincingly describe how to get rid of capitalism. He was given a pamphlet called “My Political Awakening” which resonated with his own feelings. In challenging a statement made by own of the workers, he learned that he had a voice and passion that could sway his listeners. He joined the Worker’s party and advanced in its ranks, learned how to work a crowd and thus he entered into politics and in time became one of the most infamous world figures. He used whatever means and schemes, regardless of morality or legality, to achieve his objectives.
Adolph Hitler! What a hey-day he would have had with Common Core’s data mining! He gained control over the minds of German children who became known as “Hitler’s Youth”. This he did in the school room.
They were taught that the Third Reich was supreme and that its leaders had unquestioned authority; this was drilled into them from the earliest grades up. They were taught that it was their duty to report anyone they heard talking against the government or its leaders, even their own parents, and they did; it was so ingrained in them. There was a lot of spying then to find information on people, to keep them in line. If Hitler had had access to Common Core’s data mining in that day, it would have been a snap to get the information he wanted.
I know this sounds paranoid because this would never happen in America, but lots of things have happened in our country that we would never have dreamed of.
Of what possible use is all that data that is being gathered through Common Core tests or assessments, and to whom is it important? Ask yourself that question, and while doing so, let the fact cross your mind, that some of the items of information from your child or grandchild’s “data back pack” might just end up biting you. Please don’t think I’ll believe you or anyone else who tells me that this data mining is strictly for educational purposes. As I told you in the beginning of this letter, I was not born yesterday.
Please do all you can to get us out of Common Core. There are many other things about this program that I am deeply concerned about, but the data mining of our children, by way of the State Longitudinal Database Systems and the complete disregard for the child’s privacy (and their family’s privacy) are uppermost in my mind and heart at this time.
We know that changing the name to Idaho Core didn’t change anything! We want out!
Those of you not on the Education Committee may not be aware that Common Core is a package deal. It’s either take all of it, or none. It is copyrighted by two private trade groups, “The National Governors Association” and “The Council of Chief State School Officers” the NGA and the CCSSO (check: http://www.corestandards.org/public-license ).
We can add a little of what we would like to the program, 15%, but none of that will be included in the assessments. So if an inquisitive student should choose to study some “outside material” on his own time, none of the knowledge he acquired, regardless of how much effort he put in, or the accuracy or the importance of what he learned, will be counted toward his grade, because it will not be on the prescribed assessment. When I went to school and even when my children went, students were encouraged to reach out and expand their minds, we even got extra credit. We were taught that that was the way people got ahead in the world.
If the teachers’ job and salary and the ranking of their school is dependent on how well his or her students perform on the assessment, who can blame them for “teaching to the test”? Many fine teachers in this awful predicament are disheartened. This was not why they chose a teaching career. Few of them dare to speak up against Common Core because they need to provide for their families.
Common Core is and will be more far reaching and intrusive in our lives than any of us can foresee at the present time. Loss of local control is frightening to me, not just in education, but particularly in education, because of the effect on the minds and hearts of our precious children, the future leaders of our Republic.
Can you please tell me, Senator, why an issue as important as almost completely changing our education system, did not come before the whole legislative body for discussion and debate– time and again? Is not your opinion on this subject, vital as it is to each of us, as important as that of those on the Education Committee? Were you not also elected to uphold Idaho conservative values? You were probably as much in the dark about this as the rest of us; the more people in the dark about it, the more likely it was to be passed, and I think that was planned.
As Common Core is actually being implemented in the classroom and as more people are becoming aware of what this program really is, you will see it becoming more of an issue.
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time” -Abraham Lincoln
Since Common Core affects all Idahoans, I’m sending this letter to each of you legislators, with my earnest plea that you will consider the ramifications inherent in such power and control as this program gives “somebody”.
Mrs. Yvonne Hyer
Thank you to Yvonne Hyer.